On 2 May 2012 the Committee published a report on EU Freshwater Policy. The European Commission responded to the report on 18 September 2012, which follows the Government’s response that was received on 29 June 2012. A debate was held on the floor of the House in due course
The Committee's report warned that urgent action is required to safeguard water quality and availability in the UK and many areas of Europe which are already suffering from the effects of a significant lack of rain. And in order for this to happen, the Committee concluded that governments will have to allow the cost of water to increase where other measures to tackle water scarcity have failed, not least through more widespread use of metering. The Commission agree that water pricing and metering have important roles to play as instruments of water policy.
The Committee also concluded that freshwater should be managed at a more local (catchment) level than is currently the case, allowing rivers trusts, amenity groups, anglers and farmers to play a much greater role in decisions about water management in their areas and in order to reconnect people with the value of water as a resource. The Commission agrees that catchment level management is a useful way of securing local involvement in water management. As proposed by the Committee, the Committee is exploring possibilities for funding from the European Investment Bank in addition to grants from the rural and regional development funds.
In the report, the Committee also recommended that:
- the EU must start planning immediately for a future in which water resources will be increasingly uncertain, with factors including climate change playing a significant role;
- urban water policy should be placed closer to the heart of the EU’s water policy;
- and the EU should encourage all Member States to develop national water scarcity and drought management plans.